EDA Rising - Cool, Calm, & Collected

Following de Geus' comments, Merrill Lynch's Jay Vleeschower took over. He said that in the 2 years since his last appearance as panel moderator, a surprising number of things have happened in EDA, not the least being that the industry has become noticeably profitable with 17-percent profit margins. Although, per Vleeschower, other software industries do even better, the recent improvements in EDA revenues are welcome news. He also noted that Cadence, Synopsys, Mentor, and Magma now represent 80 percent of the revenue for the industry.

Each CEO then had a shot at the podium and in turn, celebrated the New Golden Age of Cooperation in EDA, admonished the industry to pull together to reach even greater heights, touted their own companies, or in the case of Dr. Rhines, went a long ways toward earning an honorary doctorate in economics with a complex presentation of data and graphs that correlated cycles in the semiconductor industry with cycles in EDA. Assuming his regression coefficients and leading/lagging indicators are correct, Rhines' conservative estimate puts EDA on a 7-percent AGR for the coming year. But, he warned, the reality may be prove to be even better. Maybe even into double digits by the time the real numbers are in for the year, and therefore drinks are on the house.

Speaking to both the technology and the business of EDA, the panel seemed to endorse ESL, DFM, enterprise-wide viewpoints, the value of vendor-customer relationships, consumer electronics, engineers, innovation, small companies, big companies, new problems, new solutions, evolving business models, and the ability of everybody's favorite Wall Street analyst to advance PowerPoint presentations.

But lest I be perceived as making light of anything that transpired at the EDAC event, I will reiterate - the evening clearly illustrated that the tenor of the discussion within the organization has changed. These men seem to have realized that they have little to gain, but a great deal to lose, if they don't finally speak with one voice. They didn't articulate it in as many words, but the body language spoke loud and clear. Within EDA, co-opetition is back.

Within EDA, Real Men make money and lead the way.


That brings us to John Cooley's afternoon panel at DVCon. Cooley had 8 participants this year on the DVCon Troublemaker's Panel (formerly known as BigWigs), and in the brief span of 90 minutes managed (once again) to showcase the seamiest and sorriest aspects of EDA, albeit while also (once again) delivering a measurable dollop of well-received entertainment. Given my earlier thesis that EDA has come of age, I will predict that this is the last time this panel/circus actually unfolds before a live audience. Hence this may be last time I transcribe the script for this event (see below).

If the EDA industry wants to be perceived as an adult within the Semiconductor Brotherhood, and I believe it truly does, it can no longer afford the luxury of an event which portrays the industry as a gaggle of bickering jokesters.

Having said that, let me be clear about one thing. The people who participated on the Troublemaker's Panel are all technologists with admirable track records. It's not that they themselves are culpable for portraying the industry as less than the sum of its parts (some of them probably didn't want to be there at all), it's that the EDA industry as a whole has encouraged this kind of self-effacing rough-housing as a way of building camaraderie with the user community. Well, it's true - belittling yourself is one way to endear yourself to folks. But it's not the only way.

The EDA industry wants/needs to wrap itself in dignity, wisdom, and a sense of visionary technology that will help, not hinder, the globalized and highly profitable/complex semiconductor industry. Everything that the Troublemaker's Panel highlights is counter to that. Hence, the joke is over and the jig is up. Going forward, the industry can no longer afford to laugh at itself in this way. It can no longer hold up its internecine struggles as the norm that defines the industry.

Real Men make money and lead the way. Period.


The DVCon Troublemaker's Panel

John Cooley, DeepChip & EETimes

Rajeev Madhavan, CEO at Magma
John Chilton, Senior VP for Marketing & Strategic Development at Synopsys
Jue-Hsien Chern, VP of Analog/Mixed-Signal Design at Mentor Graphics
Ted Vucurevich, CTO at Cadence
Vic Kulkarni, CEO at Sequence Design
Atul Sharan, CEO of Clear Shape
Brett Cline, VP of Marketing at Forte Design Automation
Gary Smith, Chief Analysts at Gary Smith EDA

The crowd was thick as thieves and upwards of 300 strong at the annual John Cooley DVCon Panel at the DoubleTree Hotel in San Jose on a rainy February afternoon. Everything beforehand was hey-how-are-you and cheerful banter and milling about. Of course, the only one without a tie was the moderator himself, the self-styled Bad Boy of EDA. Meanwhile, the thing was being filmed up the yin-yang, huge lights, cameras, action - a real ripsnorter of an industry event. We all knew the panelists had seen the questions beforehand posted on DeepChip. We all knew they'd been coached on how to respond. We didn't know which questions Cooley had decided to use.

At 3:30, Cooley gestured to the 8 panelists chatting en masse below the stage and said, “I would say, 'Gentlemen, it's time to begin,' but that phrase doesn't apply. So I'll just say, 'EDA People, please come up onto the stage. It's time to begin.'”

The panelists took their seats at the table, the crowd hushed up, and Cooley began.

Cooley - First rule of Fight Club. Don't talk about Fight Club. Second rule of Fight Club. Don't talk about Fight Club. This used to be the BigWig Panel, but it was decided it would be better to tell the truth, so we changed the name.

Laughter …

Cooley introduced his panelists one by one and lobbed his first question at Jue-Hsien Chern from Mentor.

Cooley - Jue-Hsien, why are you here instead of Joe Sawicki?

Chern - Joe came down with a cold and had to cancel. I had no excuse. I had to be here.

Cooley - Thanks a lot, we're flattered.

Laughter …

Cooley - John Chilton of Synopsys, so why are you here?

Laughter …

Chilton - I'm here instead of Antun Domic.

Cooley - Actually they slipped him in at the last minute and I'm okay with that.

Chilton - I became head marketing guy after running the IP business at Synopsys. I know the chip problems. And Antun's done this panel for two year, so it was somebody else's turn.

Cooley - John, why should I trust you? You're marketing.

Laughter …

Cooley - Rajeev, why do you say you're the best?

Madhavan - For any product niche in EDA, if you're the leader, you've got 50 percent.

Cooley - What's your market share?

Madhavan - It's 33 percent in the RTL-to-GDSII market.

Cooley - I thought you had 100 percent in some weird sliver of the market.

Madhavan - I know it's whatever Gary said, and now Erach [Desai] has made up some other numbers.

Cooley quotes market stats from Gary Smith …

Cooley - Gary, is Rajeev telling the truth?

Smith - He's off by a few hundred million, but yeah - he is growing.

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